BT v Crown Prosecution Service: CA 16 Dec 1997

The plaintiff appealed against dismissal of his claim for malicious prosecution brought against the Service.
Held: Actions for malicious prosecution, against the Crown Prosecution Service are to be examined closely to ensure that they are not a mere circumvention of negligence immunity: ‘The fact that someone in the Crown Prosecution Service may have been negligent or incompetent in the course of reaching a decision to commence or to continue the prosecution – whether by failing to evaluate the evidence correctly at the outset, or in failing to review the evidence after committal or in the light of new material – cannot, in itself, justify an inference of malice. If that is all the evidence that there is, the question of malice cannot be left to the jury. It is because, in many of these cases, that that will be all the evidence there is, an attempt to dress up a claim in respect of negligence or incompetence in the guise of malicious prosecution must fail. ‘ The question to be asked was whether there was ‘a proper case to lay before the court’.


Kennedy, Judge, Chadwick LJJ


Times 29-Dec-1997, [1997] EWCA Civ 3000




England and Wales


CitedHicks v Faulkner 1878
Before charging a prisoner, a police officer must have ‘an honest belief in the guilt of the accused based upon a full conviction, founded upon reasonable grounds, of the existence of a state of circumstances, which, assuming them to be true, would . .
CitedElguzouli-Daf v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis and Another CA 16-Nov-1994
The Court upheld decisions striking out actions for negligence brought by claimants who had been arrested and held in custody during criminal investigations which were later discontinued. The Crown Prosecution Service owes no general duty of care to . .
CitedGlinski v McIver HL 1962
The court considered the tort of malicious prosecution when committed by a police officer, saying ‘But these cases must be carefully watched so as to see that there really is some evidence from his conduct that he knew it was a groundless charge.’ . .
CitedBrown v Hawkes CA 1891
The court considered the issue of malice as an element of malicious prosecution. It is a matter to be proved by the plaintiff or the case may be withdrawn, but in a proper case it may be inferred from want of reasonable and probable cause although . .

Cited by:

CitedHowarth v Gwent Constabulary and Another QBD 1-Nov-2011
The claimant alleged malicious prosecution and misfeasance in public office against the defendant. He had been charged with perverting the course of justice. He had worked for a firm of solicitors specialising in defending road traffic prosecutions. . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Torts – Other, Legal Professions

Updated: 13 November 2022; Ref: scu.143399